Review: Those Girls by Lauren Saft

Monday, 8 June 2015

18249315Those Girls by Lauren Saft
Released: 9th June 2015
Published by: Little Brown
Genre: Mature YA Contemporary
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 336
My Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars
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Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can't help but stab you in it. Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they're the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them--and really, how well do they know one another?

Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band--without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved--literally, figuratively, physically....she's not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever....or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley

Disclaimer: This is a very subjective review

Reaction in a gif:

And yet I'm still conflicted:

I could see the message, but it just didn't reach me.

While I have read books dealing with this concept before, they've grabbed me because they did have that realism in perfect harmony with sophisticated storytelling - something which for me this book did not. Could it be that beneath my complete and utter distaste for pretty much all the characters I actually had some kind of interest in their toxic, twisted dynamic? I don't know. Maybe I had that infinitesimal glimmer of hope that things could get better, perhaps people change. Really, what I got here was the sordid story of three teenage girls in some warped Gossip-Girl/Mean Girl mashup but with even more melodrama and idiocy.

All three of these girls seem to be fooling themselves that they're on top of their game, on top of their world...until it inevitably comes falling down.

But some of the things I came across just...disgusted me to be honest.

You could look at this whole plotline as some pseudo-Freudian analysis of the 'pursuit of pleasure' and teen angst to the extreme if you really wanted to. But on the surface when you have vulgar comments like this, even for the sake of the 'shock factor', I couldn't help but cringe:

"It's pretty annoying." She sighed.
"Why don't you just tell her that you're not okay with it? She's such a fucking whore, it's getting pathetic. You know that Drew's just going to use her up and throw her out like the tampon that she is."

This is just one example in a sea of derogatory terms used by supposed 'friends' to other said 'friends'. I know teenage girls can be vicious, but is this level of salaciousness really necessary to convey the message? I just couldn't relate to any of the characters on a deep level, though if I had to differentiate between a triumvirate of appalling behaviour, Alex's might come in as someone who actually turned out to have some sense towards the end. It was that saving grace of an epiphany, which, had it not been eclipsed by later events - would have made me actually relate to her.

Mollie on the other hand had absolutely zero appeal, and got no connection from me. I just couldn't relate to her perpetually vitriolic attitude and cheap talk. In today's day and age, you might think we as a society would be desensitized to such foul actions and references like 'my gutter slut of a friend' - but being constantly bombarded with a barrage of obnoxious vibes just got too much.

"We thought we were so much better off, out in my driveway smoking weed, laughing at poor, abused Mollie and Veronica and their latest adventures in sex and delusion."

These characters have NO IDEA what consequences their actions have - and I know they're meant to be 16 - but that doesn't automatically equate to '16 and completely stupid'. And yet, competing for the attention of the guys, constantly backstabbing, cheating on boyfriends, joking about a 'dead baby' in relation to the morning after pill are all things that perhaps 'those girls' would do. 

So is this a satire? A literary concoction to explore the perverse ways that teenage girls can operate? Even so, on a subjective level, I could not find a way to like this. The interesting thing is, I can see what the author was trying to do, but I can't bring myself to empathise with the content at all. 

Personally, I just don't like books where girls refer to other girls where 'little whores-in-training in crisp plaid kilts hugged and compared class schedules and times'. Where a girl is so virulent to another that she is 'somewhat curious to watch her crash and burn'. There's enough crap going on in the real world around us for that. I just wanted to see one slice of goodness, one taste of kindness without an ulterior motive. 


This just wasn't a book for me. While the structure was there with the different perspectives and there were some unexpected turns, none of the characters truly resonated with me. Please do take my review with a grain of salt - as this is just my opinion, and some people have actually ended up rating it highly. 


  1. Oh gosh, this book sounds like it definitely deals with toxic friendships in an extremely unhealthy manner. Definitely you don't call your friends gutter sluts and all that sort of stuff! Thanks for the review Genie.

    1. Yeah, and it's that which I just couldn't deal with when it was happening the whole time. I would be interested to see what else this author writes about in the future though with different content.

  2. Oh bloody hell, this book sounds toxic in itself. When it comes to books tackling the whole mean girl trope, it really needs to have that deeper meaning because when you've got catty girls who take no responsibility for their actions, it really sends a message of being able to treat people like crap... And not have consequences. I'm getting sick of the mean girl character. I'm still willing to give this one a try, but will go into it with pretty low expectations to be honest. Wonderfully honest and well balanced review poppet <3

    1. Ha - my thoughts exactly. I just wished they had at least changed in *some* way and developed into better people - though maybe that's just me wanting a happy ending.

  3. I read this book and I agree with you completely. I just hated it. I hated all of the characters and I didn't feel like there was any character development or growth. Great review.

    1. It is a shame that it turned out that way, and unfortunately for the book it seems I'm not the only one who had a negative reaction.

  4. I missed out on my chance to read this one because I expected myself to read it. The synopsis made it sound like these girls were simply going to be cruel, hypocritical and it would paint all teenagers in bad light. But really, I do think there is a way a portray those kind of girls in a book.

    1. Yeah, it didn't exactly give teens the best look - I just wish there was more character development for it to have some more meaning for me. There are books which I've come across that have done this dynamic better, though it is a complex one.


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